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March 3, 2016
About Pepper, Trade partnerships

It's hard work to make relationships work, even with those who are closest to us. You know - the ones we tend to take for granted, like our families. It's not uncommon for me to forget to tell my wife that I have an event in the evening. I'm quickly reminded of my forgetfulness when I later receive a text that dinner is getting cold (which reminds me…). The busier our lives get, the more deliberate we have to be in planning who is going to pick up the kids and take them to the dance recital or softball practice. And sometimes we have to plan, in order to make plans. I'm not just talking about serious topics, like retirement; I'm talking about where we'll go on vacation.

Even with the best intentions, relationships aren't always straight-forward. They ask for sincerity, which means listening, valuing  contributions and expressing appreciation. At Pepper Construction, we label ourselves a relationship-based contractor. But what does that mean? While we have the numbers to back that claim, with clients going back 20, 30 and more years, being a relationship-based contractor is about more than numbers, and it extends beyond our clients. In the same way that we want our clients to feel like we're their partner – that we're there for them – we also want our trade partners to feel like we have a vested interest in their goals and success.

We've always regarded our subcontractors as partners so a couple of years ago when we received feedback that indicated there was room for improvement, we took it seriously. Since then, we have worked hard to show our trade contractors that we're committed.

  • We engage contractors in project plans, through activities like pull planning.
  • As part of our quality program, we hold pre-installation meetings to get everyone on the same page before we start the work.
  • We're improving our communication at every step, from more consistency during preconstruction to increased visualization in the field.
  • We implemented a Safety Leadership program, designed around a genuine concern for each other's safety and well-being.
  • Along with the Safety Leadership program, we instituted a Safety Discovery Team to engage in conversations where the work is happening and to gather feedback and ideas on a regular basis.
2016 ISA GC of the Year

Last week, we were honored to receive the 2016 Indiana Subcontractors Association General Contractor of the Year award (over $100 million in annual revenue category). It recognizes our hard work to continuously improve, and more importantly, it validated our efforts to be a relationship-based contractor. To all of our contractor partners, thank you for your hard work, contributions to our industry and commitment to our community. And thank you for the honest feedback that helps us step up our efforts.

About the Author


Bob Eckl Senior Vice President, Indiana

With 28 years of industry experience, Bob oversees national retail accounts and provides supervision to more than $500 million in Pepper projects. Bob started with Pepper’s Chicago office in 1996 and joined Indiana in 2005. As senior vice president, he co-leads Pepper Indiana’s operations, which includes staffing and pricing strategies, as well as the preconstruction, quality and virtual construction departments. Bob holds a Bachelor of Science in Construction Administration from the University of Wisconsin. He is an ACE Mentor board member and mentor committee chairman, and he serves on the General Contractor Council of the Indiana Subcontractors Association. Bob is also a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, where he earned the Certified Development, Design & Construction Professionals (CDP) credential.